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[pees] /pis/

a separate or limited portion or quantity of something:
a piece of land; a piece of chocolate.
a quantity of some substance or material forming a single mass or body:
a nice piece of lumber.
a more or less definite portion or quantity of a whole:
to cut a blueberry pie into six pieces.
a particular length, as of certain goods prepared for the market:
cloth sold by the piece.
an amount of work forming a single job:
to be paid by the piece and not by the hour.
an example of workmanship, especially of artistic production, as a picture or a statue:
The museum has some interesting pieces by Picasso.
a literary or journalistic composition, usually short, in prose or verse.
a literary selection for recitation:
Each child had a chance to recite a piece.
a musical composition.
one of the parts that, when assembled, form a whole:
the pieces of a clock.
an individual article of a set or collection:
a set of dishes containing 100 pieces.
Chess, Checkers.

a token, charm, or amulet:
a good-luck piece.
an individual thing of a particular class or kind:
a piece of furniture; a piece of drawing paper.
an example, specimen, or instance of something:
a fine piece of workmanship.
one of the parts into which a thing is destructively divided or broken; a part, fragment, or shred:
to tear a letter into pieces.

a coin:
a five-cent piece.
Midland and Southern U.S. a distance:
I’m going down the road a piece.
Chiefly North Midland U.S. a snack.
Also called piece of ass. Slang: Vulgar.

verb (used with object), pieced, piecing.
to mend (a garment, article, etc.) by adding, joining, or applying a piece or pieces; patch.
to complete, enlarge, or extend by an added piece or something additional (often followed by out):
to piece out a library with new books.
to make by or as if by joining pieces (often followed by together):
to piece a quilt; to piece together a musical program.
to join together, as pieces or parts:
to piece together the fragments of a broken dish.
to join as a piece or addition to something:
to piece new wire into the cable.
to assemble into a meaningful whole by combining available facts, information, details, etc.:
He pieced the story together after a lot of effort.
verb (used without object), pieced, piecing.
Chiefly North Midland U.S. to eat small portions of food between meals; snack.
give someone a piece of one’s mind. (def 38).
go to pieces,

of a piece, of the same kind; harmonious; consistent.
Also, of one piece.
piece of the action. (def 23).
piece of work, an extraordinary person, especially one who has extremely negative qualities:
She’s a nasty piece of work!
speak one’s piece, to express one’s opinion; reveal one’s thoughts upon a subject:
I decided to speak my piece whether they liked it or not.
an amount or portion forming a separate mass or structure; bit: a piece of wood
a small part, item, or amount forming part of a whole, esp when broken off or separated: a piece of bread
a length by which a commodity is sold, esp cloth, wallpaper, etc
an instance or occurrence: a piece of luck
(slang) a girl or woman regarded as an object of sexual attraction: a nice piece
an example or specimen of a style or type, such as an article of furniture: a beautiful piece of Dresden china
(informal) an opinion or point of view: to state one’s piece
a literary, musical, or artistic composition
a coin having a value as specified: fifty-pence piece
a small object, often individually shaped and designed, used in playing certain games, esp board games: chess pieces

any chessman other than a pawn
(US & Canadian) a short time or distance: down the road a piece
(Scot & English, dialect)

(usually pl) (Austral & NZ) fragments of fleece wool See also oddment (sense 2)
(informal) give someone a piece of one’s mind, to criticize or censure someone frankly or vehemently
go to pieces

(Brit, informal) nasty piece of work, a cruel or mean person
of a piece, of the same kind; alike
(informal) piece of cake, something easily obtained or achieved
verb (transitive)
(often foll by together) to fit or assemble piece by piece
(often foll by up) to patch or make up (a garment) by adding pieces
(textiles) to join (broken threads) during spinning

c.1200, “fixed amount, measure, portion,” from Old French piece “piece, bit portion; item; coin” (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *pettia, probably from Gaulish *pettsi (cf. Welsh peth “thing,” Breton pez “piece, a little”), perhaps from an Old Celtic base *kwezd-i-, from PIE root *kwezd- “a part, piece” (cf. Russian chast’ “part”). Related: Pieces.

Sense of “portable firearm” first recorded 1580s; that of “chessman” is from 1560s. Meaning “person regarded as a sex object” is first recorded 1785 (cf. piece of ass, human beings colloquially called piece of flesh from 1590s; cf. also Latin scortum “bimbo, anyone available for a price,” literally “skin”). Meaning “a portion of a distance” is from 1610s; that of “literary composition” dates from 1530s. Piece of (one’s) mind is from 1570s. Piece of work “remarkable person” echoes Hamlet. Piece as “a coin” is attested in English from 1570s, hence Piece of eight, old name for the Spanish dollar (c.1600) of the value of 8 reals.

PIECE. A wench. A damned good or bad piece; a girl who is more or less active and skilful in the amorous congress. Hence the (Cambridge) toast, may we never have a PIECE (peace) that will injure the constitution. [“Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence,” London, 1811]


“to mend by adding pieces,” late 14c., from piece (n.). Sense of “to join, unite, put together” is from late 15c. Related: Pieced; piecing.


Related Terms

all in one piece, come up smelling like a rose, knock off a piece, mouthpiece, museum piece, tear off a piece, think-piece

[second sense, US underworld use since about 1930]

(1) of silver. In Ps. 68:30 denotes “fragments,” and not properly money. In 1 Sam. 2:36 (Heb. agorah), properly a “small sum” as wages, weighed rather than coined. Josh. 24:32 (Heb. kesitah, q.v.), supposed by some to have been a piece of money bearing the figure of a lamb, but rather simply a certain amount. (Comp. Gen. 33:19). (2.) The word pieces is omitted in many passages, as Gen. 20:16; 37:28; 45:22, etc. The passage in Zech. 11:12, 13 is quoted in the Gospel (Matt. 26:15), and from this we know that the word to be supplied is “shekels.” In all these omissions we may thus warrantably supply this word. (3.) The “piece of money” mentioned in Matt. 17:27 is a stater=a Hebrew shekel, or four Greek drachmae; and that in Luke 15:8, 9, Act 19:19, a Greek drachma=a denarius. (See PENNY.)


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  • Piecing

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